Related to: 'The Chestnut Tree (A Short Story)'

December Book of the Month

Nikki and Damien continue in Take Me

I awake to an empty bed and the smell of frying bacon. I roll over to find my phone on the bedside table, then glance at the time. Not yet six. I groan and fall back among the pillows, but I don't really want to go back to sleep. What I want is Damien. I slide out of bed, then grab the tank top and yoga pants I'd left draped across a nearby armchair. I head barefoot out of the bedroom and move the short distance down the hall to the third-floor kitchen. We're standing in Damien's Malibu house, and the wall of windows that faces the ocean is wide open, the glass panels having been thrust aside to let in the breeze. The smell of the ocean mingles with the scent of breakfast and I breathe deep, realizing that I am content. Whatever demons had poked at me during the night, Damien effectively banished them. I glance toward the windows and out at the darkened Pacific. Waves glow white in the fading moonlight as they break upon the shore. There is beauty there, and part of me wants to walk to the balcony and stare out at the roiling, frothing water. But the siren call of the ocean is nothing compared to my desire to see Damien, and so I turn away from the windows and head straight to the kitchen. It is larger than the one in the condo I used to share with my best friend, Jamie, and it is not even the primary kitchen for this house. That is on the first floor, and could easily service a one-hundred-table restaurant. But this - the "small" kitchen - was installed as an adjunct to the open area that serves as a venue for entertaining, and since it is just down the hall from our bedroom, Damien and I have gotten into the habit of cooking our meals and eating in this cozier, more informal area. Usually we're joined by Lady Meow-Meow, the fluffy white cat I took custody over when Jamie moved out. I know Lady M misses Jamie, but she's also enjoying having the run of this huge house, and Gregory - the valet, butler, and all around house-running guy - spoils her rotten. Now I lean against the half wall that marks the break from hallway to kitchen. Damien is standing at the stove cooking an omelette as if he were nothing more than an ordinary guy. Except there is nothing ordinary about Damien Stark. He is grace and power, beauty and heat. He is exceptional, and he has captured me completely. At the moment, he is shirtless, and I cannot help the way my breath stutters as my eyes skim over the defined muscles of his back and his taut, strong arms. Damien's first fortune came not form business, but from his original career as a champion tennis player. Even now, years later, he has both the look and the power of an elite athlete. I let my gaze drift down appreciatively. He is wearing simple gray sweatpants that sit low on his narrow hips and cling to the curves of his perfectly toned ass. Like me, he is barefoot. He looks young and sexy and completely delicious. Yet despite his casual appearance, I can still see the executive. The powerful businessman who harnessed the world, who shifted it to his own liking and made a fortune in the process. He is strength and control. And I am humbled by the knowledge that I am what he values most of all, and that I will spend the rest of my life at his side. "You're staring," he says, his eyes still on the stove. I grin happily, like a child. "I enjoy looking at pretty things." He turns now, and his eyes rake over me, starting at my toes. "So do I," he says when his gaze reaches my face, and there is so much heat in his voice that my legs go weak and my body quivers with want. His mouth curves into a slow, sexy smile, and I am absolutely certain in that moment that I am going to melt. "You spoiled my surprise," he says, then nods toward the breakfast table where a tray sits with a glass bud vase displaying a single, red rose. "Breakfast in bed."

Headline Review

The Honey Farm on the Hill

Jo Thomas
Authors:
Jo Thomas

Jo Thomas's irresistible novel transports you straight to the mountains of Crete. A gorgeous, sun-filled new read from the author of THE OYSTER CATCHER, THE OLIVE BRANCH, and LATE SUMMER IN THE VINEYARD.We never forget the one who got away.Eighteen years ago Nell fell in love in the mountains of Crete and life changed for ever. Nell's daughter, Demi, has never met her dad. Nell never saw him again.When she gets the chance to return to the hilltop town of Vounoplagia - where everything began - Nell can't resist the urge to go back and find him.Working on a honey farm perched high up in the hills, there's plenty to keep her busy. And she will quickly realise the town harbours just as many secrets as she does.But if Nell's favourite romantic films are right, there's a happy ending in store for each of us. All she has to do is seek out the magic of the mountains...Jo Thomas takes you there.

Headline Review

Notes from the Northern Lights (A Short Story)

Jo Thomas
Authors:
Jo Thomas

Dive into this gorgeous winter warmer from Jo Thomas, bestselling author of The Oyster Catcher and Late Summer in the Vineyard. Notes from the Northern Lights is a sparkling short story available exclusively in ebook.Wardrobe mistress Ruby Knightly has been sent to Iceland on a very special mission that could save her opera company's opening night. And she's determined that her fear of the dark - and the incoming weather - won't stand in her way.But as Ruby follows her nose across Iceland's wild, volcanic landscape to the warmth of the smokehouses, she will soon discover that there is shelter to be found from even the most turbulent of storms. Particularly if there's romance around the corner...An irresistible winter tale that will melt the coldest of hearts.

Headline Review

Late Summer in the Vineyard

Jo Thomas
Authors:
Jo Thomas

Escape to France with LATE SUMMER IN THE VINEYARD - Jo Thomas's irresistible follow-up to THE OYSTER CATCHER and THE OLIVE BRANCH. 'A fabulous French feast of fun' Milly JohnsonEmmy Bridges has always looked out for others. Now it's time to put down roots of her own.Working for a wine-maker in France is the opportunity of a lifetime for Emmy. Even if she doesn't know a thing about wine - beyond what's on offer at the local supermarket.There's plenty to get to grips with in the rustic town of Petit Frère. Emmy's new work friends need more than a little winning over. Then there's her infuriatingly brash tutor, Isaac, and the enigmatic Madame Beaumont, tucked away in her vineyard of secrets.But Emmy will soon realise that in life - just as in wine-making - the best things happen when you let go and trust your instincts. Particularly when there's romance in the air... 'Sheer romcom brilliance!' Heat'A heart-warming tale... Perfect escapism' Marie Claire'This book is scrumptious! I couldn't stop reading' Katie Fforde'A full-bodied tale with hints of humour and romance which can be enjoyed at any time of year' Sun'What a gorgeous book! Reading it felt like the best kind of holiday' Lucy Diamond'A warm-hearted, sparkling gem... I loved it!' Miranda Dickinson'Sunny and funny...as warm as a south-facing vineyard. It made me want to rush to France tout suite!' Veronica Henry'Captures the essence of France from the vineyards and chateaux to the glorious sunshine and of course, the wine' Cathy Bramley

Headline Review

The Red Sky At Night (Short Story)

Jo Thomas
Authors:
Jo Thomas

A sparkling, feel-good short story from the bestselling author of The Oyster Catcher and The Olive Branch, available exclusively in ebook.When Layla arrives in the Welsh coastal village of Swn-y-Mor with new fiancé Rob in tow, she plans to carry out her dad's final wishes, then return to Cardiff quickly, before too many unwanted memories surface.But the longer Layla remains, the harder it is to resist the lure of the autumn skies and memories of family holidays gone by. With fishing trips and firesides to enjoy, is Rob really Layla's future, and is Swn-y-Mor going to remain in her past for ever? It's time for Layla to recapture the magic of her childhood...

Headline Review

The Olive Branch

Jo Thomas
Authors:
Jo Thomas

Escape to Italy with The Olive Branch - the irresistible new novel from Jo Thomas, author of ebook bestseller The Oyster Catcher. 'I loved it!' Katie FfordeYou can buy almost anything online these days. For Ruthie Collins, it was an Italian farmhouse.Yet as she battles with a territorial goat and torrential rain just to get through the door of her new Italian home, the words of Ed, her ex, are ringing in her ears. She is daft, impetuous and irresponsible. But Ruthie is determined to turn things around and live the dream.First, though, she must win over her fiery neighbour, Marco Bellanouvo, and his family... Then there's the small matter of running an olive farm. As the seasons change and new roots are put down, olives and romance might just flourish in the warmth of the Mediterranean sun.

Headline Review

The Oyster Catcher

Jo Thomas
Authors:
Jo Thomas

Adele Parks

Adele Parks worked in advertising until she published her first novel in 2000. Since then, her many Sunday Times bestsellers have been translated into twenty-six different languages. Adele spent her adult life in Italy, Botswana and London until 2005 when she moved to Guildford, where she now lives with her husband and son. Adele believes reading is a basic human right, so she works closely with The Reading Agency as an Ambassador for Reading Ahead, a programme designed to encourage adult literacy.Meet Adele! Visit her website for the latest news on her upcoming events: www.adeleparks.com, head to Facebook for exclusive extras: facebook.com/OfficialAdeleParks and chat with Adele on Twitter @adeleparks.

Andy McDermott

Andy McDermott is the bestselling author of the Nina Wilde & Eddie Chase adventure thrillers, which have been sold in over 30 countries and 20 languages. His debut novel, THE HUNT FOR ATLANTIS, was his first of several New York Times bestsellers. THE MIDAS LEGACY is the twelfth book in the series, and he has also written the explosive spy thriller The Persona Protocol.A former journalist and movie critic, Andy is now a full-time novelist. Born in Halifax, he lives in Bournemouth with his partner and son.

Barbara Nadel

Trained as an actress, Barbara Nadel used to work in mental health services. Born in the East End of London, she now writes full time and has been a visitor to Turkey for over twenty years. She received the Crime Writers' Association Silver Dagger for her novel DEADLY WEB, and the Swedish Flintax Prize for historical crime fiction for her first Francis Hancock novel, LAST RIGHTS.To find out more, follow Barbara on Twitter @BarbaraNadel or visit her website www.barbara-nadel.com

Carol O'Connell

Carol O'Connell is the New York Times bestselling creator of Kathy Mallory, and the author of thirteen books, eleven featuring her acclaimed detective, most recently IT HAPPENS IN THE DARK, as well as the stand-alone thrillers JUDAS CHILD and BONE BY BONE. She lives in New York City.

Claire McGowan

Claire McGowan grew up in a small village in Northern Ireland and now lives in London, where she runs an MA in creative writing at City University. BLOOD TIDE is Claire's sixth crime novel, and the fifth in the highly-acclaimed Paula Maguire series. She also writes women's fiction as Eva Woods.

Colette Mcbeth

Colette McBeth is the critically acclaimed author of psychological thrillers Precious Thing and The Life I Left Behind.Colette was a BBC TV News television correspondent for ten years, during which time she covered many major crime stories and worked out of Westminster as a political reporter.She lives on the South Coast with her husband and three children.Twitter @colettemcbethFacebook /colettemcbethauthorcolettemcbeth.co.uk

Daisy Goodwin

Daisy Goodwin's work as a TV producer and presenter includes Reader I Married Him, Bookworm and The Nation's Favourite Poems; she is also the creator of Grand Designs and wrote the script for ITVs Victoria . She has edited numerous poetry anthologies, including the bestselling 101 Poems That Could Save Your Life, and is the author of Silver River, a memoir as well as two novels, My Last Duchess and The Fortune Hunter. Goodwin reviews regularly for the Times and Sunday Times and writes a bibliotherapy column for the Daily Mail.

David Churchill

David Churchill is the pseudonym of an award-winning journalist, who has conducted several hundred in-depth interviews with senior politicians, billionaire entrepreneurs, Olympic athletes, movie stars, supermodels and rock legends. He has investigated financial scandals on Wall Street, studio intrigues in Hollywood and corrupt sports stars in Britain, and lived in Moscow, Washington DC and Havana. He has edited four magazines, published seventeen books and been translated into some twenty languages. The Leopards of Normandy trilogy reflects his lifelong passion for history and his fascination for the extraordinary men and women of the past who shaped the world we live in today.

David Gibbins

David Gibbins is the author of twelve novels that have sold over three million copies in thirty languages. He has been on both the New York Times and the Sunday Times top ten bestseller lists, and he has been a Newsweek number one bestseller in Poland. As well as nine novels in his Jack Howard series of archaeological thrillers, he has written two novels set in the world of ancient Rome. David has a PhD in archaeology from Cambridge University, is a passionate diver and derives much of the inspiration for his novels from the many expeditions he has led around the world to investigate ancient shipwrecks and other archaeological sites. His awards have included a Fellowship and Medallion from the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust. For his latest discoveries and more about David and his novels, visit www.davidgibbins.com and www.facebook.com/DavidGibbinsAuthor.

Dean Koontz

Dean Koontz is an international household name whose novels have sold many millions of copies worldwide and have appeared on national and international bestseller lists, selling millions of copies each year. He lives with his wife Gerda, their dog Anna and the enduring spirit of their dog Trixie in southern California.

Eowyn Ivey

Eowyn Ivey's debut novel, THE SNOW CHILD, was published in twenty-six languages, and became an international bestseller. It was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize 2013, and Eowyn won the International Author of the Year category at the 2012 National Book Awards. A former bookseller, Eowyn lives in Palmer, Alaska, with her family.

Hannah Doyle

Hannah Doyle likes to write so much that she went to university twice just so that she could call putting pen to paper (well...finger to keyboard) her profession. She started out at a press agency in Bristol before skipping off to London to be a celebrity journalist. During the five years she spent at Reveal magazine and, for reasons unknown, Hannah became the go-to girl for interviewing male stars during scantily clad photo shoots. She now lives with her husband in Yorkshire where she writes for women's magazines, runs a blog and faffs about on Instagram. THE YEAR OF SAYING YES is her debut novel. Join Hannah online!Twitter: @HannahShowbizInstagram: @thisishannahgramBlog: www.thisishannah.co.uk

Janet Evanovich

JANET EVANOVICH is the No. 1 bestselling author of the Stephanie Plum novels, including ONE FOR THE MONEY, and the Lizzy and Diesel series including WICKED APPETITE, WICKED BUSINESS and WICKED CHARMS, as well as THE HEIST, THE CHASE, THE JOB and THE SCAM in the Fox & O'Hare series with Lee Goldberg. In addition she is the author of FULL HOUSE, FULL TILT, FULL SPEED and FULL BLAST, amongst many more. She has won several major crime fiction awards including the CWA John Creasey Award, Dilys Award and Silver Dagger.Janet's website can be found at www.evanovich.com. She is on Twitter - @janetevanovich - and Facebook - /JanetEvanovich.

Jill Mansell

Jill Mansell is the author of over twenty Sunday Times bestsellers including MEET ME AT BEACHCOMBER BAY, YOU AND ME, ALWAYS, THE ONE YOUR REALLY WANT and THREE AMAZING THINGS ABOUT YOU. TAKE A CHANCE ON ME won the Romantic Novelists' Association's Romantic Comedy Prize, and in 2015 the RNA presented Jill with an outstanding achievement award.Jill keeps in touch with her readers on Twitter - @JillMansell - and Facebook - /OfficialJillMansell. She lives in Bristol with her family.